You probably won’t recognize the stars of “Wakefield” – but, trust me, you won’t be able to get a certain early ’80s pop song out of your mind after watching this psychological comedy-drama, which arrives Monday (October 18). ) on Showtime.
This song, or “earworm” as one of the characters in the series calls it, is a recurring theme throughout the eight-episode series, which was produced and filmed in Australia, where it was performed. aired earlier this year on ABC TV. And this is just one of the many striking facets of “Wakefield,” which tells the stories of the staff and patients who inhabit the quaint titular mental hospital located in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales.
The show’s protagonist is Nik (Rudi Dharmalingam), a compassionate nurse who enjoys tap dancing (another theme) and has the ability to connect with Wakefield patients on a level higher than anyone, including the Chief Medical Officer. Kareena Wells (Geraldine Hakewell), who is also Nik’s ex-girlfriend. Nik stopped short of getting his medical degree; he felt that was what he was supposed to do, and it is evident in the way he cares about his accusations and communicates with them that he was right. These patients include a businessman (Dan Wyllie) who is there after an overdose and is trying to make a big deal; a young mother (Megan Smart) with postpartum depression who is also caring for her newborn daughter in Wakefield; a manic-depressive landscaper (Harriet Dyer) who cannot control his libido; and an overweight hoarder (Bessie Holland) with mom issues hiding behind ubiquitous black sunglasses.
Their stories are told through a mixture of flashbacks and linear timeline into their life in Wakefield, as are the stories of Nik and his colleagues; lots of scenes involving various characters are revisited, but unfold through different points of view, which keeps things interesting – and viewers on their toes. You will have to be careful.
Nik, of course, has his own demons who as the series progresses begin to surface as we are whisked away to his personal cocoon facing issues with his family, Kareena (who is dealing with her own. problems), his co-workers and the state of his mental health (he is the “victim” of that earworm song mentioned above). The staff at Wakefield are an assemblage of likable and less likable characters, including Acting Head Nurse Supervisor Linda (Mandy McElhinney) who worries Nik will take her job; Pete (Sam Simmons), who listens more to his two Bichon Frize dogs than to patients; and Collette (Felicity Ward), a New Age nurse who slaps her forehead to release positive energy. McElhinney, Simmons and Ward, who each have long acting resumes in Australia, are entertaining and interesting in their own way.
The series, created by Kristen Dunphy – who co-wrote it with Sam Meikle, Joan Sauers and Cathy Strickland – mixes dramatic, comedic and even fantastic (with multiple musical numbers) sequences for a captivating take on the life of a sample of people overwhelmed by both emotional and physical problems – and all looking for a way to cope with life inside and outside the walls of Wakefield.